Meniere, Jardel: South Africa probes French pair death

Image caption The couple had been living in South Africa for 12 years

South African authorities are investigating the death of a French couple who had been on the run for a week.

The bodies of Philippe Meniere, 60, and Agnes Jardel, 55, were found after a shoot-out with police in a remote farm.

Police say the pair - reportedly members of a US cult - may have committed suicide.

A manhunt was launched last week after they allegedly killed a student police officer and injured another.

The couple are also said to have received military training.

"An exchange of fire took place between the police and the couple at the farmhouse," said police spokesman Colonel Hendrick Swart.

Farm-owner Gerhardus du Plessis asked the police to help him evict the pair from his farmhouse in Sutherland, Northern Cape after they had failed to pay rent, reports say.

But after one of the police officers was shot dead last Friday, more than 70 officers, helped by sniffer dogs, combed some 3,000 hectares of land for six days searching for the pair.

The couple are said to have belonged to the cult movement, Rathma School of Enlightenment, founded in the US.

But a Rathma spokesman has been quoted as saying that they had not had any contact with the couple since 2004.

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